Mar 20th 2017 by MartinCasaus • 40 Questions • 2035 Points
I am a federal budget analyst. My focus is macro fiscal policy, including the main drivers of spending and revenue, deficits, and debt. I am happy to talk about the Trump skinny budget, and I am happy to talk about the American Health Care Act, though I'm not a health policy expert. The opinions expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of my place of employment.
Is there any advice Joey Ryan has given you on either wrestling or baby oil that has proven invaluable in your career?
Thanks for the great response. Why don't we (the government or people who can) close the fiscal gap then?
The only advice I got was to use baby oil....Lots of baby oil. I havent quite added that to my arsenal yet. Should the moth use baby oil? He did help me get thet bkue check on Twitter too
Oh and he also said to put my pro wrestling tees store link on everything. lol. That man sells ALOT of shirts. Oh and by the way... www.prowrestlingtees.com/martincasaus
Thanks Joey :)
I just realized I didn't give a good enough answer on this. Sorry about that. The reason we don't is that we can't agree, and there's still a long way to go to get there. Republicans don't want to do tax increases. Democrats don't want to do significant cuts to Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid (the parts that are actually growing). So, that leaves us at a longer-term impasse.
But, all the stuff I said about the progress is still true.
Ever thought of doing a mathematican character and being Marty the Math?
Isn't LIHEAP proposed for either drastic reductions or total elimination every year?
Didnt Matt Stiker do the teacher gimmick? I play dumb but I would have graduated with a 4.0 GPA in college, if it wasnt for accounting!!!! I loathe math!!!! sooooooo nope never
Obama's final year called for a reduction, but his first years called for large increases. Bush 43's first budget called for an 18% reduction. That's pretty drastic, but not in the realm of complete elimination. Budgets before FY1996 are not online, and Bush 41 and Reagan were before my time, so I couldn't answer that.
Hi Marty. You're one of my favourite wrestlers, I love your match vs. Killshot. My question is what's your recommendation for an amateur wrestler or someone that want to learn this? And what's your favorite music band?
What are some of the more surprising things that the average American wouldn't know about major spending / how the government pays for things?
Awesome. I loved that match. Shane Stickland (killshot) is one hell of a worker. My recommendation for people wanting to get into wrestling would be to find the BEST PRO wrestling school you can find, and OUT WORK and OUT STUDY every person there!! Id go with the most reputable schools that have track records for getting people to success. I listen to literally everything. I was listening last night to movie soundtracks like Man of Steel and of coarse Disney. This morning, I had Avenged Sevenfold on and even old 90's boy bands like Backstreet boys and Nsync. So like I said a bit of everything lol #noshame
I think that humans generally don't deal with percentages or multiplication well. And so even if we know how much things "should" cost (questionable), I don't think anyone intuits the multiplication of that across the population. So, when people hear, "The budget is $4 trillion," that sounds crazy. But when I tell you that Social Security and health care make up half of that, it's a little less crazy. In truth, I think humans (myself included) are bad at estimating everything until they're forced to make percentages add to 100. That's how people can think that foreign aid is 28% of the budget, when it reality it's (depending on whom you ask - this is an impossible question because the classification of what's really foreign aid is too murky) is anywhere between like 0.2% and 2%.
Martin, I absolutely love the Marty character and his relationship to Mariposa. Few questions, if you may:
How far would you like to take Marty/Mariposa's relationship? I honestly got majorly incestuous vibes toward her in season 2, almost like he's in love with her in a way and would do anything for her and she uses that to her advantage against potential enemies. Would that be a fair assessment?
How often has Melissa Santos told you to fuck off or some other slip of the tongue during her announcements and did she know beforehand you'd creep on her or was that something you did in character that stuck?
I did. Just yesterday I was wondering what sorts of things budget analysts think when reading such an unusual budget. Turns out, in this case anyway, at least one of them thinks more or less what I thought (with far less swearing!).
Thank you for the love. I would like to take the relationship as far as I can take it to make compelling TV. The fun part of playing a persona like this is that peoples minds are usually darker then what we can show on TV. So if i hint at something and leave it to interpretation, the believers minds take it how they want it. People are usually sicker in their own heads than they put out to the world. So I just have to hint at few things and let the fans take it to where they want. Dont most siblings love each other and would do anything for them? A few simple actions that leave interpretation open can go a long way
-the second question is a fun one for me. Melissa Santos is one of the most professional people I know. Shes got beauty and brains. We did my first ring announcement as a trial to see how people react and because it worked so well and pissed so many people off, we had to keep it. Poor Melissa has zero clue what I'm going to do to her when she's announcing me. I have whispered the most random things in her ear to get her to bust up laughing or break character and shes SO GOOD, she never breaks!! I'll get her though! I assume it's a pretty hard task to deal with announcing my name and where im from, when I'm doing my Moth thing all over her every announcement. She'll break...one day....maybe
Haha, well, this is my measured response the day after. Yesterday was a very long day with a lot of unhappiness. There are a lot of things I'm willing to compromise on. Food, shelter, and heating are not among them.
You can have one match with any other wrestler. Who would you want it to be against and what kind of match would you want (cage, iron Man, etc.)?
Republicans have preached that reducing taxes will boost the economy and net tax revenue will remain the same. In you experience and analysis, have you found this to be true?
I would want my former WWE Tough Enough trainer Stone Cold Steve Austin as my match, anything goes. I hung my own belt up in Tough Enough so I can take it back down when I want too right? If I win, I get to keep that belt ;) .....it was a sick belt.
Stealing from an answer in another place, the concept behind supply-side economics is that taxes are so high, that they disincentive work, and so, while cutting them loses revenue, it gains back at least some from increased work.
So, if your taxes are cut, you earn a little bit more per hour worked, so you might work more. But, on the flip side, you might decide that you can actually work less to get the same income, so you might work less. That's the concept, and the question is behind the income effect and the substitution effect.
It's tough because most people can't dial up or down their work. I have a salaried job. I can't go to my boss and say, "Hey, I'd like to work 5% more hours, so please pay me 5% more."
At some level, this is certainly true. If you went from 100% taxation to 90% taxation, you'd probably get more work. But from 39.6% to 35%? That's less clear, and there isn't evidence to support it. We certainly didn't have kick-ass growth during the Bush 43 era, and we certainly lost a lot of revenues. It might very well have been true for Kennedy going down to 70 percent. But that top tax rate was hitting so few people, it's hard to imagine it really had a large change. Again, it depends how many people are being affected, how much their incentives are changing, how much they're able to change their work, and how much they actually do.
Reagan's own budget group, in his final year, estimated that his first round of tax cuts cut revenues by 26%. Subsequently, he raised taxes by 14%, relative to that new base.
In truth, labor is not being supplied by prime-age folks at the rate we would expect, and it's unclear why. I don't believe it's exorbitant benefits because Europe does better than we do. Here's a very long report on the decline in prime-aged male workers: https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/page/files/20160620_cea_primeage_male_lfp.pdf
Hey Marty! Sweet gimmick, love your LU stuff. Who's been your favorite person to work with so far in LU? Who would you like to work with in the future?
Wow, that was much to read and I still contend that the author does not understand what happens in the shadow economy as he calls it. How does he count the legal immigrant that collects the check and distributes cash to the five undocumented immigrants that work under him. How does he count the crews I compete against for construction work that are completely off the books. Do you think the guys in the hood answered his survey honestly?
I have really enjoyed your explanations of fiscal policy. Thanks!
My favorite so far in LU would have to be Shane Stickland (Killshot). He's so talented and the world is about to find out just how much here this year if they havent already. As far as the future there are so many people i'd love to work with. Just for fun, I'd love a go with former TE contestant Matt Cross or Paul London
I'm glad you read it! That's a great point, and I couldn't tell you. All I know is that the government uses advanced statistical methodology to try to estimate and account for non-response bias, but we obviously can't tell. There's frequently no natural experiment to see how well the methods did.
I couldn't really expound beyond this because this isn't my area - I just know that the author, Jason Furman, is incredibly highly respected (and Matt Damon's freshman year roommate in undergrad) and is a person who does all he can to make sure he's not biasing data through omission.
Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it!
Where can I buy an Aztec Pride t-shirt? What has been your favorite match of your career so far?
How do you think the cuts will affect agencies like the National Parks Service and the U.S. Forest Service?
Lucha Underground has a Pro Wrestling Tees store where the #aztecpride shirts I wear are available.
My favorite match of my career so far hasnt happened yet.
Well, for what it's worth, the budget will not pass. It's just an initial place the Trump administration is digging in for leverage. I still think it's hard to tell what they're going to do. Bush 43 more or less kept non-defense discretionary growing with inflation, and just boosted defense greatly.
I personally think that Democrats will shut down the government before letting the non-defense discretionary numbers go below what are called "sequestration levels" (the second caps, referenced in the first question above). But it's really tough to figure out political pressures.
Right now, the topline levels are essentially flat from FY(fiscal year) 2016 to 2017 to 2018, and that's on purpose. The two-year deal that boosted defense and non-defense for FY2016 and FY2017 gave more money in the first year than the second in order to create levels that would facilitate a future deal and make it harder to go below (Murray/Ryan did that as well): http://imgur.com/a/7j0D1
So, people who want more funding are in a good negotiating place for FY2018 funding (what Trump is proposing), but it will be harder in the future years because the blue bars will keep growing with inflation, and it's harder to get an increase than it is to keep something flat.
Do you refer to them as chicken tenders, chicken strips, chicken fingers, or something else?
How would you incentivize the private sector to invest more in job training, like Trump seems to want. And do you think Trump will do what needs to be done to make this happen?
Whats wrong with chicken breasts? Who doesnt love breasts? ;)
Businesses try to maximize the net present value of their profit, discounted to infinity (or at least the life of the current heads of the company). That is, they try to get as much profit over the period they care about. Currently, they do job training if they think it's helpful/if they need to (because there's a supply shortage, as during the dot com boom, rather than a demand shortage). A government policy that focused on that would be in changing the profit margins and thus the incentives for them. But we already let companies write off training and salaries as a business expense, so that's not it. We could pay them to do it! But then why not directly do it? The government actually has plenty of jobs training programs. Unfortunately, Trump's budget proposed to cut some of them. So, I'd be surprised, but you never know. We'll get more detail about all of his priorities in the bigger budget in May, which will go line by line through every account in the federal budget.
How much input do you have on Marty the Moth and how much of it is by the writers in Lucha Underground?
In your view, what are the biggest levers the government can pull to affect 1) spending and 2) tax revenue?
For example, while there is much focus on automobile standards for mpg capabilities, the majority of gasoline is used in industry, specifically by giant tanker ships. Are there any particular taxes that if changed would have a bigger impact on the budgets than the topics people commonly discuss?
One of my biggest things I love about LU is the fact that we have an open door policy with the writing staff and Vampiro. They came up with the idea of the character and it has evolved so much since its inception. You always hear about places saying they have an open door policy but LU actually lives it. Im probably moving to Los Angeles soon and buying a house there. Im definitely going to be bugging EV Eric Vanwagnen (@EricVanWagenen) and head LU writer Chris Dejoseph (@chrisdejoseph) for a Lucha Underground house reality show. lol. **hint hint nudge nudge
For taxes, the more money touched, the easier. So, consumption taxes hit everyone, and make a lot of money, but they're regressive. The raising just the top bracket will get less, but it's progressive. FWIW, we have a much more progressive tax system than most European countries, but a much, much less progressive benefit system (on net, thus being less progressive). A lot of European countries make a lot through consumption taxes and then much higher income taxes on poorer folks than we have, but then give out a lot more in benefits. That's not necessarily a bad way to do it, but people should just be aware of the politics of it.
For spending, half of our budget is just Social Security and health care, and another 16% is the military. http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go
But in truth, it's a much tougher question because, excluding interest, health and Social Security are growing, and the group of "everything else" is shrinking: http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/program-spending-as-a-percent-of-gdp-historically-low-outside-social
So that poses a tough question. You can only cut the shrinking parts so much. Do you think we're currently spending the right amount per person with respect to health and Social Security? If yes, then you have to support more spending in the future because those, even outside of demographically-adjusted "excess cost growth," are set to grow for demographic reasons. If no (and you think we're spending too much), then those are the places to hit because they're the biggest.
Who is the biggest jerk backstage? This can span over everywhere you have worked. I am always curious who people hated backstage.
This might be too broad of a topic but Ill give it a go anyways...
I contend that a representative govt. is almost inherently dysfunctional (to a degree) due to shifts in policy that occur every few years. Imagine a company that changes positions/focus/CEOs on a dime every few years. How can government programs succeed if down the line they get changed, reduced funding etc.?
Have you seen this happen to a significant degree or am I making too big a deal about it?
I do my best I can to try to stay away from negativity in my life in general. So i stay away from the "he said, she said, " BS that can happen in most locker rooms. Im there to do a job, entertain the believers, and have fun.
I think that's certainly a very real thing, and bigger the bigger the issue is. For instance, we just that the Obamacare exchanges signed up fewer people this year than the previous year, which is the first time that has happened. It was the difference between the Obama administration pushing very hard to sign people up, and the Trump administration did not do anything. But we can see even more in enforcement of regulations. During the Bush administration, the Department of Labor scaled back on most activities, except for union busting.
I think it's pretty clear that having a single-party system would be more efficient in that changes would be done not for political reasons, there wouldn't be whipsawing of markets (as might happen with the health market - there's a reason some parts of Obamacare are still being phased in 7 years later), and there would be no one working to undermine laws. But I'm not really sure how to get around that, except with less frequent elections. And we don't want to make it toooo hard to pass laws.
Have you heard any rumblings of there being a Lucha Underground video game? I think a lot of people would be interested in the idea especially with the increased amount of eyes on LU due to the Netflix deal.
Good answer, Thanks.
Follow up. Q: How do you account for value when priming the spending pumps at the center of an economy the size of the US?
I've made a bunch of rumblings about creating a video game but I know we want to make LU as successful as possible as a TV series first before branching out into other entertainment avenues. I will be the first 1 in line to get that game with you guys. Hell i'd play it with the Believers before the tapings at the Temple if they had it! Doesnt hurt to bug EV Eric Vanwagnen (@EricVanWagenen) and head LU writer Chris Dejoseph (@chrisdejoseph) about it.
Thanks! How do I personally, or how does the US government?
Who right now in wrestling is one to watch out for in the future that has yet to make an impact?
Personally. When writing the follow up report. What are the success markers?
It really depends on why we're spending the money. Just yesterday, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney was talking about the success of nutrition programs and said (incorrectly) that after-school nutrition programs weren't helping performance, and so they were failing. But sometimes we just give people food so they don't starve.
And, in fact, the government is often an entity that deliberately makes low-return investments. Roads and bridges between major areas don't need government funding to happen. But that bridge connecting those 50 people with the rest of society? That's something big. To use the Post Office as an example, NYC could run it its own independent, NYC-only post office, and stamps would be cheaper. But we have a national rate, even if you're going to Alaska. Think of how much it would cost to send stamps between places in Alaska if we had a localized stamp rate.
Anyway, this is all a long way of saying that it depends on the project. If the goal of something is to stimulate the economy, that's what you look at. If the goal is to improve test scores, that's what you look at. If the goal is to help people get jobs, that's what you look for. If the goal is just to help make people's lives less miserable, that's what you look for.
Anti-poverty programs are pretty big for me, so I assess how many people they're keeping out of poverty. I assess how much they close the poverty gap for each dollar spent.
Hi Marty, huge fan! Who in your opinion would be the best tag partner for Marty the Moth? I for one would love to see you and Dalton Castle work together.
Personally. When writing the follow up report. What are the success markers?
I am pretty content and happy with my sis Mariposa (Cheerleader Melissa) However, I have said on a few podcasts that I would LOVE to work with Dalton Castle. Moth vs Peacock??
I realized I misread your question! This has to be a priorities question, I think, and not one that budget wonks hold a special answer to. Economists will give one answer, and there are certainly programs that economists will agree make sense (automatic stabilizers and stimulus spending - see here: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/5zzssm/i_am_a_federal_budget_analyst_with_a_focus_in/df2ghlv/). But there's no reason that our government's goal should be maximizing economic growth at all costs. The point of growth is for that to translate into utility for people. There's no point of growing if people don't get to reap the benefits. So what about the programs that don't really help growth, but we consider necessary for civilization, like parks and some elements of the arts? So, this is why I think this ultimately becomes a values question.
How was it like being trained by Steve Austin on tough enough?
leaning more politics but a bit of both. I was in DC this past summer and the idea of doing something bigger than myself really appealed to me!
Awesome sauce! Its Stone Cold Steve Austin! He mostly did the critiquing and perfecting but success leaves clues and if you want to learn professional wrestling thats one guy whos had the success
My first job out of college was on a political campaign, which is sort of a badge of honor because everyone knows that it's terrible work that takes incredible stamina (it was 76 hours a week, not counting transportation). After that, I interned for a year, building my resume and my network, until I finally got my first permanent job (I was pretty picky, so that hurt). I am incredibly fortunate that my parents live so close to DC and were happy to support me through unpaid internships as I worked on this.
My jobs more or less randomly ended up going towards budgeting (though I did major in math). My office sadly is not hiring, and the budgeting world is actually quite small. All of OMB (which is largely the M part anyway) isn't many more than 500 people, CBO is around 235, each corner of the budget committees has only about 20 staff, and there are very few budget think tanks.
If you want to get involved in the budget world, I'd probably try for CBO or OMB.
If you want to get involved in politics generally and don't have a resume for it, it really helps to be independently wealthy or a place you can crash in the area. Otherwise, people go for the cheapest housing they can find ($600 at like the barest of minimums) and work part time while interning and lose money all the while.
I think campaigns are a good place to start because, while they pay shit, most will get the workers free housing (at least on the Democratic side), and there are always more campaigns. And beyond that, it's a great bonding experience, and people leave campaigns and go everywhere, so your network expands a lot. But it's really terrible work, with people yelling at you all the time.
I would also definitely get a USAJobs account, for sure! And sign up for the senate employment updates and the House employment listserv. And many agencies also have their own employment updates. For instance, CBO does.
Dead serious....where does the money go. They keep saying the US is the richest country in the world but everything seems to be old and falling apart. I am an average person and the government takes a good chunk of money out of my paychecks but I can't see the effect it has or where it seems to magicially vanish too.
Also how corrupt is the government in your opinion?
By corrupt, do you mean, like as a kleptocracy? Or just wasteful?
On where our tax dollars go, I'd start with this: http://www.cbpp.org/research/federal-budget/policy-basics-where-do-our-federal-tax-dollars-go
Half of our spending goes to Social Security and health care. Another 24 percent goes to military and vets. That's 75% right there, so if you like those things, I think it's harder to think of it as largely a waste? Another 6% is interest, which we have to pay, and another 10% is other social safety net, which leaves approximately 11% on all else.
The US has a lot of money that the federal government doesn't touch. Among economically advanced countries, we are a low-tax, low-spending country (by a lot).
I'd also say that a lot of times we don't see the effects of government. Do we see it when the Consumer Product Safety Commission makes a dangerous product illegal, and then we don't die? Or do we just notice it when the government isn't doing it's job and things go wrong? Do we see it when the USDA successfully keeps us from getting poisoned? So, I think the idea of government use is harder when talking about the remaining bit of the budget.
Which nationality/ethnicity makes the best sausage? Gotta be the Germans, right?
Oh, don't worry! At this point, my viewpoint is "explore everything and probably change my major 30000 times" so don't worry. Again, thank you so much for the detailed responses. This AMA is the most nerdy fun I've had in awhile.
Haha, fair enough! And of course - I'm glad you found them useful! :)
Can you explain about the wrestling acting thing and how does it work, is there like a script?
Looking at current projections, where could you see the debt going to in the next four years?
Following the cuts of the EPA there were heavy opposing cries from citizens, how do the cuts of the EPA contribute positively to the government?
Was the amount of money cut really worth it?
That depends on where you go. In Lucha there is a script for the backstage segments but most places there is no script for what happens in the ring.
Debt net of financial assets as a percent of GDP is projected to reach 68.2% by the end of fiscal year 2017 (which ends September 30th). By the end of FY2021, it is projected to have increased very slightly to 70.7%, after which it is projected to increase a bit more rapidly, hitting 80.5% by the end of FY2027.
These projects assume now changes to current policies - that programs that need to be reauthorized are reauthorized in the same way, that we fund discretionary appropriations at sequestration levels and adjusting for inflation afterwards, and that existing permanent programs continue to work in the way they're currently set up. This also assumes no recession.
FWIW, the EPA policy is just a request from the administration, as opposed to a cut that's been enacted. Right now, Congress hasn't agreed to the overall amount of spending they want to happen next year. After that, it will need to agree to how much spending happens on the non-defense side. After that, the budget committees will file levels setting a maximum amount of spending for each appropriations subcommittee, and after that, the subcommittee that has jurisdiction over the EPA will write a bill with funding for the EPA. If Congress agrees to that, and Trump does, only then will we know the level.
I would be very surprised if cuts even close to that deep come to fruition - among other things, because I would be immensely surprised if the 10ish% cut overall to non-defense happens. This just sets to starting point for discussions.
My understanding is that before Trump's budget proposal, the USA already spends over $500 billion on the military alone.
What is the military going to do with an extra 60 billion?
You heard right. I went to Juan Diego Catholic High in Utah
The specifics of where it would go aren't fully detailed, but there are always more projects that could be funded. There's always more R&D that could happen, and there are always more people we could hire. Allegedly there's a readiness gap, wherein the military feels that if we needed to deploy tens of thousands of troops immediately for a massive ground assault, folks aren't properly trained. And so funding would theoretically go towards that. And of course, higher pay is more competitive and can attract better people.
But, yes, this is a rhetorical gesture. You can tell because of how non-specific most of the DOD section in here on pages 21 and 22 of the PDF (15 and 16 of the report): https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/budget/fy2018/2018_blueprint.pdf
You mentioned that you like helping to end bullying. I feel like you position would but you in a unique circumstance to help empower and inspire younger kids to stand strong. What kind of community outreach (in persona or not) do you do to help with this issue? How would you encourage others to educate kids to resist bullying?
What do you mean exactly by "currency based on debt and an economy based on infinite growth"? Are you referring to the fractional banking system or something else? It's not like USD is dependent on debt or the economy growing. Growth is good for obvious reasons and debt makes it much easier to buy homes and start businesses, but the US dollar doesn't depend on growth and debt for it's existence.
Great question. I believe that I am in a position to make an impact and empower and inspire younger kids to stay strong. I was bullied when I was younger so I remember how it feels. Ive done visits to schools and programs to speak on the subject of bullying and self confidence. I am actually looking for a good organization now on the subject to partner with in order to make a larger impact. Id love any suggestions if you have a good organization on the subject. When I speak on the matter I want to make sure that everyone knows they do not deserve to be bullied, NO ONE does! I encourage speaking with the kids on the different types of bullying so that they know what bullying is, its many forms, and its effects. If they see it, they should speak up themselves and to adults. Stand up and speak out
A lot of people are into the idea that the growth is unsustainable because debt is increasing. I tend to point them to the post-war period, in which debt increased essentially every year, but shrank as a percent of GDP and we had higher per-capita growth than during the no-deficits period. http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2015/8/18/9168417/budget-deficits-growth-rate